“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD … has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted … (Isaiah 61:1, ESV)
Christmas can be a sad time of the year. The holidays often trigger sorrow. You may think to a loved one is no longer here to celebrate with you. You may grieve that life has not worked out as you had hoped and you find yourself in a lonely place. The whole idea that you should be joyful makes you despairing. It does not help that this is a dark and cold time of the year.
If this is where you find yourself, here are some thoughts:
Acknowledge the Hurt
It’s okay that you are not okay. I’m not okay. And that other person that seems to have it all together is not okay. We all have struggles and hurts. Denying hurt only makes it hurt worse.
Admit it. Confess it. Share it. Start with admitting it to yourself. Then talk with God about it. Bringing the pain to light makes it possible for us to get the help we need. If we hide the pain in the darkness it will only fester and grow.
After you have talked with God about it, talk about it with another person. Go to your pastor. Go to a spiritual mentor or a trusted friend. Don’t keep it to yourself.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
I know there are times when I don’t want to be around people, but I need to be around people. Satan works to isolate us from one another. God created and designed us to live in community. He did not intend for us to go through this journey of life alone. You will not see your way through the pain by yourself.
Maybe you are a bit awkward socially. Or you use your sorrow as an excuse to escape engaging in community. Or you grieve that you don’t have anyone. But the reality is that you are not the only one who is lonely. There are a lot of lonely people in this world. The only reason a person is isolated is because they chose to isolate themselves. There are plenty of opportunities to find community. Seek and you will find!
Seek to serve your neighbor. We may feel sorry for ourselves. But when we start to serve the needs of others, our hurts and struggles fade into the background. There are plenty of opportunities to serve through your church and in your community.
Take Care of Yourself
Get sleep. Eat right. Get exercise. Turn off the TV and close your social media to go for a walk. When we fail to take care of ourselves physically, we will suffer emotionally. It creates a cycle. Our emotional state makes us less motivated to take care of ourselves which will, in turn, cause us to suffer emotionally even more. It can be difficult to motivate yourself to take care of yourself. But no one who does the right thing for themselves ever regrets it when looking back.
Find Strength from Your Wounds
When Jesus was resurrected from the dead, he brought with him the scars on his hands and feet. He did not need to carry these scars with him. Yet he did! Healing does not happen from ignoring our wounds. Rather we find strength and purpose through them. The scars you carry are part of who you are. And know that God can use them in ways you never dreamed possible. Instead of despairing the hurt consider how God may be doing through the hurt. The most painful and lonely experience in the history of the world was when Jesus hung upon the cross. But it was through the cross that God brought salvation into the world.
- Do you find yourself lonely or sorrowful during Christmas?
- What have you done in response to these feelings?
Lord, I find myself struggling during the holiday season with loneliness and sorrow. I am often compelled to isolate myself that makes me even more despairing. Give me the courage to admit my sorrow and to receive the help I need. Give me the courage to overcome, so that I can minister to others who find themselves despairing at any time of the year. In Jesus’ name. Amen!